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In April 1961, a UFO encounter occurred in Eagle River, Wisconsin that many researchers of the flying saucer phenomenon have seen fit to relegate to the domains of hoaxing and/or fantasy. It just might have been something else. It was the late morning of April 18 and the tasty brunch of a man named Joe Simonton was about to be rudely interrupted by visitors from another world.

Talk about bad timing.

A chicken farmer, Simonton was about to eat when he was shaken to his core by the thundering sound of what he thought was a jet-plane, flying low overhead. It was not. He raced outside and was confronted by nothing less than a flying saucer, around thirty feet in diameter, hovering above his yard.

Simonton could only stand and stare, in awe, as a doorway opened and a man approached him. He and his comrades inside the UFO were all short in height – around five feet at the most – and wore outfits similar to military jumpsuits. The completely mute man approached Simonton with what clearly resembled a terrestrial jug, and managed to make Simonton understand that he wanted water.

Simonton quickly obliged. As a “thank-you” the aliens gave Simonton a hot plate of what appeared to be small pancakes, fresh off of ET’s grill. Yes, really. It was a good trade-off for the farmer. The leader of the group gave a strange salute and returned to the craft, which shot away, into the heavens. Simonton ate his somewhat unappetizing pancakes – or, at least, he ate one of them. By all accounts, one was enough.

There’s absolutely no doubt that the story of Joe Simonton requires us to believe things that many would say no sane person should have any business believing – ever. But, the tale is not quite over. It wasn’t long before the U.S. Air Force was in on the action, too – as was the media. Interestingly, the Air Force concluded that Simonton had not concocted the story for money, attention or infamy (or, indeed, for anything), but suggested he had experienced the encounter in a strange, dream-like state.

Spilled Salt

And there’s one other thing, too: I mentioned that Simonton only ate one of the pancakes. Simonton’s decision to preserve the remaining pancakes was a wise one. The Air Force had them analyzed by the Food and Drug Labratory of the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare. The result of the analysis demonstrated just one anomaly. The pancakes were identical to any other pancake, except for one thing: they were totally lacking in salt.

It was never explained how, if Simonton was responsible for the whole situation– even if in an altered state, rather than engaging in deception – he had managed to remove all the salt from the various ingredients that comprised the pancakes. Or even why he might have done such a thing in the first place.

The skeptic might say: so what? Who cares about a bit of salt? Or a lack of it? Well, it turns out that in fairy lore, the little people could not abide salt. In addition, legend says, if a person scatters salt grains on the ground in front of a fairy, the fairy has no choice but to count every single grain – a tedious task, to say the least. So, what we have with the case of Joe Simonton is an encounter with a group of relatively small humanoids who may well have had an aversion to salt.

Now, before anyone accuses me of believing in fairies, it’s worth noting the following: make mention of fairies to most people and doing so will likely provoke imagery of small, dancing, flying, female entities of small size and sporting equally small wings. It comes as a surprise to many to learn that that particular imagery – which is mostly reminiscent of Tinkerbell in the tales and adventures of Peter Pan – is not entirely accurate. In fact, it’s far from accurate.

Contrary to the belief that fairies grow to barely five to six inches, centuries-old lore tells of how the creatures often reached heights similar to those of young children – that’s to say roughly around three feet tall. They were often described as looking very old, wizened, and even sinister, and they lurked in underground realms. They could be deeply malevolent, too. Stealing (and even, sometimes, devouring) babies, and provoking havoc and torment, were amongst their many and varied ways of having what passes for a great time in the strange land where no-one ages and time passes infinitely slowly. Tinkerbell, they definitely were not.

No-one has done a better job of addressing, and trying to answer, the riddles surrounding the alien-fairy connection than Jacques Vallee. He suggests we’re dealing with something presently unknown that may be responsible for manifestations of both phenomena – something probably not extraterrestrial and almost certainly manipulative. Just perhaps, the affair of Joe Simonton is one that falls into such a carefully stage-managed, deceptive category of outright wackiness.

Why? When we can answer that question, the quest for the truth behind the UFO phenomenon will be over. Right now, we’re still scratching our heads as much as Joe Simonton was when he was faced with the complete and utter absurdity of ET cooking him breakfast.

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Nick Redfern works full time as a writer, lecturer, and journalist. He writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. Nick has written 41 books, writes for Mysterious Universe and has appeared on numerous television shows on the The History Channel, National Geographic Channel and SyFy Channel.
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